As a newly minted PhD at the young age of 26, less than 25 years after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Barry said goodbye to Madison, and found himself teaching Hawaiians just a few miles off Waikiki Beach. There are worse places to work!
Today, Barry is known as a renowned Robert Louis Stevenson scholar. Thanks to his plain prose and books like Treasure Island, the Scottish writer had been primarily considered a children’s author. Barry challenged that narrative and reintroduced Stevenson to a new generation of readers.
In the months ahead, Island Idylls will be exploring several works that have stood the test of time. This episode helps us understand why Barry is a reliable guide.
For some of Barry’s writings, check out his introductions to the following works by Robert Louis Stevenson: The Beach of Falesa, The Complete Stories of Robert Louis Stevenson, Kidnapped, and David Balfour. See also Menikoff, Narrating Scotland: The Imagination of Robert Louis Stevenson. To prepare for upcoming conversations, consider reading the memoir of his Brooklyn years, Stone Mother.
Finally, the Stevenson poem Aaron and Barry struggled to recall is called, “System,” and goes like this:
Every night my prayers I say.
And get my dinner every day;
And every day that I’ve been good,
I get an orange after food.
The child that is not clean and neat,
With lots of toys and things to eat,
He is a naughty child I’m sure--
Or else his dear papa is poor.